Archive for February 2010

Winter Dreams, Winter Poem

February 24, 2010

Bridge, Burr Oak Branches, St. Mary of the Woods College, February

I am not one of those people whose favorite season is winter. In fact, I start longing for spring before the Winter Solstice (the official beginning of the season) has occurred. Still, there are some things about winter that I do appreciate. It is my time for making large pots of soup, for reading novels under piles of blankets, for riding the stationary bike while catching up on movies from the video store. And every winter, after I have settled into the darkening and the feeling of refuge indoors, I have at least one significant dream.

A friend from college has asked that I post a poem she remembers me writing in February over two decades ago. I still have it, but don’t want to brave the cold garage to search through boxes of old writing to find it. Instead, I thought I would post a much more recent poem, and I have spent the morning looking for one with an encouraging reference to spring in it.

Instead, I have chosen a poem inspired by one of those winter dreams, and in choosing it, I am choosing also to enjoy the season of winter a little longer in its last few weeks this year!


The trees have shed every leaf

and stand empty handed,

bare and unafraid

on this night of generous dark.

Snow is falling and dreams come,

no two ever the same,

these water jewels,

these numinous visits.

A man with one day to live

is throwing his abundant wealth into a waterfall,

laughing, never so alive.

The spend leaves of the profligate trees

are buried under treasure heaps of extravagant snow

and the dream man dies with dawn

but his gold remains –

this sudden exuberance of

giving in, surrendering to how it has to be –

this spending life on life,

spending all of it on living all of it.

Trusting the Story as it Unfolds

February 17, 2010

1. Home, Awake, Midnight

During January’s Friday Workshop, while participants were exploring their lives through metaphor, archetypal image, and story, I made a series of cut-paper images.  I am writing about these images only now, almost 4 weeks after making them and “living with them” in my psyche.

I intentionally chose to work without drawing, or writing a story or plot before hand. Both drawing and writing – skills I am good enough at that I have illusions of some mastery of them – would have triggered for me efforts to understand too soon and to control the process in order to avoid the deeper pull of the unconscious, to distract myself from its challenge, to prevent my receiving of its invitation.

Earlier in the workshop, we had made a list of possible conflicts, using as mythic language as possible. On my list, I wrote: being woken from sleep by an unseen force in the middle of the night knowing that something must change.

2. Again, Responding to the Call, "Change Your Life!"

Having been through a series of changes, not all that many years ago, I certainly didn’t want to be there again – already! But, having learned from past changes that trying to avoid change is life-numbing, while responding to the call of true longing connects self to world and awakens the energy of soul, I knew now not to ignore this disturbing messsage.

I worked intuitively, not knowing what each image “meant” and not knowing what would follow each image until something emerged from the paper and scissors and my awkward efforts at cutting.  What began to emerge was a woman running from her home down a dark road  after being woken.

3. A Bit of Home Stone

She pauses to pick up a stone in order to carry a bit of “home” with her wherever she must go.

4. City, People Stautes

She comes to a city where the people are statues. She does not know why they are this way – perhaps they become this way because the work they do to survive here drains the life from them.

5. Let Us Have the Stone!

They all want to touch her stone.  Are they trying to steal it from her?  Will the stone heal them? Do they fear it and want to make her get rid of it?  Do they see the woman as strange, the rock as familiar,  finding it to be as hard and lifeless as they are becoming?

She wants to help the people. She wants to share the stone.  But she needs it for herself too.

6. Praying for Guidance

She withdraws from the crowds, exhausted, drained, not sure what to do. She kneels by a stream, near a tree, holding the rock against the Earth, praying for guidance.  This feels grounding, calming and  she feel deeply sad.

7. Explosion of Energy

Suddenly, there is an explosion of energy from the stone and the woman is sent into the arms of the tree. She grabs hold and swings.  A bird flies from the branches.

The story emerging from these cut paper images does not feel finished.  I anticipate that there may be additional images to create.  But I have not made them yet.

Immediately after making them, my schedule became very busy with unexpected work that calls me away from my studio, into the city, to provide community mosaic workshops for schools, work that I have done for 7 years.  It seemed, this fall, that the recession had cause that source of work to dry up and so I turned my energy toward developing new work opportunities and was feeling excited about their potential.   Despite my own financial uncertainty, I was also enjoying some much needed time at home, in my studio.

It seems now, that my life has paralleled the images that came intuitively as I worked with cut paper.  I have been pulled away from home, back into community work. But I am feeling overwhelmed by the city, and  people who all want something undefined from me. Working in this way will drain me, turn me into a statue.  The work feels old, heavy, uninteresting to me. I feel the need to pull away, to ask for guidance, to pray for change that will allow new creative energy to take me in new directions.

I do not know how I will respond to all these inner stirrings of need for change.  I do know that the changes made over the past several years have all been incremental steps toward living in a way that allows me to use my gifts in more authentic ways. I do know that I am an introvert – and I have worked for 7 years in a very extroverted manner. I feel the need to simplify. To protect introvert time. To claim studio time. To retreat. To free my energy for different work.

I trust that the creative spirit that communicates through art meditation, prayer, dreams, metaphor, and intuition will continue to guide me as the story continues to unfold.